Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksha was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on 26th October. Sri Lankan president Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena has dismissed the current prime minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe and designated Mahinda Rajapaksha, a political leader who was charged of human rights abuses, genocidal issues, immoral nepotism and inordinately close ties to China when he was in power.
After the sworn statement by Mr. Rajapaksha, President Sirisena wrote to Mr. Wickremesinghe, mentioning that he had been sacked.
“I had appointed you as the prime minister under (article) 42 (1) of the constitution and as your appointing authority, I write to notice that you have been removed from the post of prime minister”, Sirisena said in the letter. Wickremesinghe responded to the letter saying, “I will continue to be the prime minister. Rajapaksha’s appointment is unconstitutional”.
Sri Lanka, one of the republics and democratic nations in Asia, has now been left with two prime ministers claiming control.
Rajapaksha was the 18th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from April 6 2004 to November 19 2005. Then he was the 6th president of Sri Lanka from November 2005 to January 9, 2015. During the presidency of Mr. Rajapaksha, Sri Lanka was in a friendly relationship with China. Colombo had spent over twenty years fighting a war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant organisation in Sri Lanka. Rajapaksha decided to put a full stop to this conflict. When he sought Indian help, India declined Rajapaksha’s appeals for large scale military support while United States also denied military aid in 2007 citing Government human rights violation in the country’s civil war. China used this opportunity to help Sri Lanka by providing it 37 million dollars in ammunition to aid Rajapaksha’s war against the Tamil Tigers. It gave Sri Lanka 6 F-7 Jet fighters, scores of anti aircraft guns and a JY-11 radar systems as reported in Foreign affairs.
With this aid, Mr. Rajapaksha launched a brutal war against Tamil Tigers which destroyed the lives of 20,000 civilians. Innocent people died in thousands in what they regard as a genocide. When the United Nations Security Council decided to examine this issue caused by Rajapaksha’s offensive, China assisted to stop the inquiry. Minorities suffered extremely under his presidency. The tremendous distress of the Tamilians and the intimate ties with China became an election issue in the year 2015. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena and Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe joined hands to run an anti-China platform. As a result, Mr. Sirisena won the presidential elections in 2015. He promised to implement 100 days reform program which would rebalance the executive branch within 100 days of being elected by corroborating Sri Lanka’s judiciary and parliament, to oppose corruption and to inquire the allegation of war crimes from 2009. He also elected Ranil Wickremesinghe as the prime minister of Sri Lanka.
The Indian Government was relieved when Mr. Sirisena won the elections in 2015 as Mr. Rajapaksha had strained ties with New Delhi. Commotion between the president Sirisena and his expelled Prime Minister Wickremesinghe commenced last year. The tension escalated as one of his cabinet ministers was associated in a plot to assassinate him. He did not announce the name of the Minister.
“Wickremesinghe and his cabinet colleague former army commander Sarath Fonseka were behind the assassination plot”, said Namal Kumara, a police informant to the reporters. He was the first to inform publicly about the assassination plot. Both Wickremesinghe and Fonseka did not answer on this allegation. This was the significant reason for the dismissal by President Sirisena.
Mr. Wickremesinghe has found some influential support in Finance and Media minister Mangala Samaraweera. He wrote on Facebook that Sirisena’s action amounted to a coup. Mr. Wickremesinghe and his proponents claim that the appointment of new prime minister is unconstitutional. He regards himself as a prime minister and refuses to quit.
While Rajapaksha’s return to power creates a fear in the minds of Sri Lanka’s minority communities; this scenario of intense difficulty seems to be the first unconstitutional shifting of power in Sri Lanka’s republic history
Written by: A.Ashika Sheraffin